Are machine guns really that hard to control?

So many on our side of the gun control fight have despaired of ever getting automatic weapons deregulated to pre-1934 state that they make excuses for the enemy. “Automatics are uncontrollable anyway”, they way. “A waste of ammunition”. It’s a view born of ignorance, as automatic arms have a definite defensive use. There’s a reason why military, police and bodyguards to rulers usually¬†try to get that capability.

A shotgun is less accurate than a rifle, but both have their uses. The same is true of submachine and machine guns, automatic rifles and personal defense weapons. Our experience is mostly limited to very slight familiarity with obsolete designs, as only pre-1986 machine guns are available to individuals. It’s like riding a bicycle — take a few minutes to learn on a basic level, a few weeks to get proficient, and provides a lifetime of utility.

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21 Responses to Are machine guns really that hard to control?

  1. Ray says:

    Even in the military only about one guy in twenty is really good with an MG. In every state in the US “civilians” using an MG (any) for SD is an automatic murder one charge. 25000 to 250000 USD for a weapon + one dollar a shot, 1500 shot minimum, for turning ammo into noise? (THE ONLY LEGAL USE FOR ANY MG in ANY part of the US by “civilians”. “Civilian’s” using an MG for ANYTHING else is a federal and state felony in all 50 states.) Even IF the FOPA were overturned today , there would still be LAYERS of federal/state anti- MG laws going back to the 1932 NFA.(you wave many of your civil rights just to own one) Yes all MG(and gun) laws are unconstitutional . Yes they are a lot of fun to make noise with ,but I never wanted one as a civilian. Its just more trouble than its worth.

    • Flint says:

      Please don’t make universal statements.

      New Hampshire has no laws restricting machineguns, except that they may not generally be used for hunting.

      NH doesn’t even require that they be owned in accordance with Federal law (most states have the added “if you don’t have it registered with the NFA, you’ve also broken a state statute” bit, but we don’t). That’s between you and the Feds, and NH does not care.

      There is no prohibition against using a machinegun for self-defense.

      Sorry, but there are no “layers” of state laws restricting machineguns, here. Might be why we have more, per capita, than any other state (by a wide margin). Just because other states have such nonsense, does not mean that all do.

    • Lyle says:

      If it’s “more trouble than it’s worth” then why does the standard issue military carbine come with a three round burst?

      Let’s get beyond personal feelings and straight to the point shall we? This issue is about one thing and one thing only; keeping state-of-the-art fighting weapons out of the hands of citizens, so as to keep citizens more controllable.

      The NFA is thus a counter-constitutional measure. It was enacted by Progressives as part of a progressive transformation of the United States away from the ideal of government of the people by the people, for the people, to the old standard of government of the people by the government, for the government.

      That’s all. If you want to change the subject, you may, but then I’ll question your motive for doing so.

  2. Jim R says:

    I agree with much of what Ray writes. IF I could afford a Thompson, BAR or even a good ol’ M-16A1, I would love it… but not for self-defense.

    I add that we would have to have a tremendous change in our cultural attitudes regarding law enforcement. Currently, there is a lot of support for what I call “prior restraint”, which is to say criminalizing activity such as owning a machine gun (or, in some places, ANY sort of firearm), possessing a switchblade, driving drunk, &c. because they MIGHT lead to injuries, property damage or some other undesirable outcome.

    It seems to me that the better route is to punish (severely in many cases) actual crimes. This attitude seems to place me in a minority.

    At any rate, legalized MG’s don’t seem likely at any point and, while I think we ought to have the right to own them, it’s not a big blip on my personal radar.

    • Miles says:

      It seems to me that the better route is to punish (severely in many cases) actual crimes. This attitude seems to place me in a minority.

      You may think you’re in the minority, but that’s just because those who hold an opposing view are louder and have friends in the MSM.

      MGs are, depending on your state, legal, but expensive, and getting more so as time goes on. Since they have been used so seldom in SD cases that actually have went to court, the status of case law concerning their use basically doesn’t amount to much.

      While I don’t have any of mine next to the bed ( what I do have is a SBR AR w/ suppressor and RRLP ammo) , they are on ‘ready alert’.

  3. Lyle says:

    Nice work, Oleg!

    Just replace “machinegun” with “bicycle” in the above comments. They’re making your point for you quite well. This is a mostly psychological war that’s been waged against us for 100 years.

  4. Ray says:

    Flint: If you a “civilian” and try to do ANYTHING with ANY “machine gun” other than use it as a ridiculously expensive noise maker the BATFEIEIO WILL come after you. The USJD WILL persecute you in federal court, and you WILL go bankrupt or to prison. State laws vary in truth, and some less restrictive than others, and yours my or may not be one of them. But trollish personal attacks are cheep and boorish and do nothing to further the very worthy causes that Mr. Volk advocates. The comments you and I express are just opinions, expressed in a public forum. Lets act like adults.

    • Flint says:

      There’s no personal attack, “trollish” or otherwise, in what I posted. I did not address your personality at all.

      And no, these are not opinions. “I think 10mm is better than .40S&W” is an opinion. Something like “…using an MG for ANYTHING else is a federal and state felony in all 50 states” purports to be a statement of fact. One that happens to be false.

      If you don’t want to be politely corrected, don’t make false claims.

      I can’t claim to be an expert on Federal laws, but I’m not aware of any that would criminalize using an NFA weapon of any sort for self-defense. Typically, what matters in a self-defense situation is whether you were justified in using deadly force, not how you did so. Stabbing someone to death with a toothpick and shooting him with a 30-round burst from an M16 are legally-equivalent, if the use of deadly force was justified. If you’re aware of some Federal statute which I’m not, please do share.

      At least one individual has been documented to use a machinegun in self-defense, and was not charged with any Federal offense for having done so (and was acquitted on the state-level charges which were only brought because of a corrupt prosecutor).

      • Jim R says:

        I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that – in some jurisdictions, anyway – using an *airsoft* pistol in self-defense might draw (ahem) unwanted attention from the local prosecutor. I agree that LEGALLY killing somebody in self-defense with any sort of weapon short of poison gas is equivalent, but there’s unquestionably what amounts to a PR angle: shooting a villain with Dad’s old .38 is less apt to arouse a crusading DA than, say, getting him with a burst from an MP-5. O’ course, the opposite is true in other jurisdictions!

        • Flint says:

          Certainly true. In some jurisdictions, even unarmed self-defense would get you prosecuted.

          However, I’m not aware of any special Federal laws that would single out machineguns for particular additional charges when used in a self-defense situation. Self-defense is considered to be an unexpected action (if you expected to be attacked, why were you there?), so if it was legal for you to have the machinegun on your person when you were attacked, it would generally be legal for you to use it as your means of self-defense.

          If you specifically selected the machinegun from among other choices, a prosecutor might be able to make more of that, if you didn’t have a good reason for having selected that particular weapon. But that would be the same, regardless of whether a machinegun was involved: self-defense entitles you to stop the attack, not to go out of your way to do extra damage, so if the prosecutor can paint you as having selected a particular weapon from among several choices for “overkill,” he can use that against you. On the other hand, if you have a choice, and a solid reason for having made that choice, you’re in a decent position (potential for corruption aside, of course). In the case I referenced earlier, the victim happened to be returning from the range, so that was the weapon he had available. Or, if you knew there were multiple attackers and you had a choice between a double-barrel shotgun and a machinegun, you could justify choosing the machinegun.

          And actually, if you could justify it in such a way, there’s no reason poison gas would be of a different legal standard. I mean, if you had a legal reason to have it on you when you were attacked, and it was the most practical means of stopping the attack, it would be the same as any other improvised weapon. “Legal reasons to have poison gas” in some manner in which it could be used as a weapon on the spot are not common, but I can imagine that someone could trigger a Halon fire extinguishing system to smother an attacker, or it’s possible that someone might be cornered with only some poisonous industrial gas (chlorine or such) to use as a means of self-defense.

  5. Ray says:

    Flint; Thank you for your OPINION, of me and what I think. HOWEVER; If you think that you can use poison gas, or a machine gun as a home defense weapon then you are in fact trolling or an idiot. Having read your post on using poison I can only guess that you must be a federal Troll or as crazy as the guy who just attacked the clinic in Colo. The law you are “unaware” of would be The United States of America Patriot Act section(s) on “weapons of mass destruction” (gas, MGs , hand grenades, bombs, IED’s ET AL) , about twenty “Violent Crime Acts” 1980-2013 and at least 10 “Presidential Executive Orders” 1968-2015 . You advocate terrorist acts (use of WMD) which is a federal crime all on its own and seem blissfully unaware that using “weapons of mass destruction” (gas and many other things) is the act of a terrorist as codified in US law. Or maybe you do know and you are trolling for Bloomburg or the feds?

    • Flint says:

      Now this would be an example of making a personal attack, and trolling.

      Please do quote the actual statutes. I really want to see where machineguns are defined as “weapons of mass destruction.” Not in your fevered imagination, but in actual text from the actual laws. But please quote the rest, as well. Or at least some. I mean, if there are so many, many laws stating this, surely you can quote some of them, can’t you?

      And no, a poison gas is not automatically a WMD. That depends upon the type and its use. If poison gasses were WMD’s all on their own, they’d be prohibited for civilians to own. That means no welding, no fire extinguishers, no refrigeration, etc. etc. – all regularly involve gasses which could be used as WMD’s, or could be used in entirely-peaceful manners.

      Using nerve gas to kill wasps (most insecticides are some form of nerve agent) is not terrorism. Using it in a subway, like those psychos in Tokyo, is. Shooting one mugger who is attempting to kill you is not terrorism. Shooting up a mall, is. Terrorism is an act, not a weapon.

  6. Lyle says:

    How quickly we digress into in-fighting when a simple subject is presented. All of the above does not change the fact that full-auto fire is more controllable than some people have represented it.

    Nor does any of the above change the fact that the second amendment was intended to protect the right of citizens to possess weapons of war.

    Now you may continue arguing among yourselves.

    • Flint says:

      No, it changes none of that. But some individuals like to pretend that gun control is actually a good thing. Going to far as to attempt to claim that a firearm is a weapon of mass destruction, to justify their anti-gun position.

      If a machinegun is the best arm for a particular self-defense situation (due to it being the only one you have, or the number of attackers, or whatever), then it is entirely reasonable to use it. As was noted, they are not uncontrollable, by any stretch of the imagination.

  7. RandyGC says:

    Back to the original I agree that accuracy with an automatic weapon is largely a matter of training, assuming the weapon is inherently accurate to begin with.

    Once rented an MP-5 at a range and by the time I was through the first couple boxes of ammo, I was making controlled 3 round burst head shots on a silhouette target using trigger control only with the selector set to Full Auto. And I am not an operator and have never operated operationally.

    For that matter, had an opportunity to shoot an MP-38 some years back. Not a precision weapon IMHO, but again I quickly got to the point of being able to make 3 round bursts with trigger control.

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  9. Matt says:

    Back in the day I learned to handle the M60 full auto. From hip and shoulder. The pig was much easier to control in prone from the bipod. Same with the SAW. The M16 was easy to control, pretty accurate in 3 round burst. If it was easy to do so, I would a full auto weapon.

  10. Never had much use for full-auto guns, although the M60 has its use with a skilled operator.

    Personally, I preferred the M79 Grenade Launcher. HE (fragmentation) rounds accurate to 200 rounds are only the start of ordnance choices. Others include canister rounds (think 00 buckshot Magnum), flares, and starshells. These are also ‘special purpose’ ordnance, but when you really needed them, you REALLY needed them!

  11. Jerald says:

    Ray, Massad Ayoob has documented at least two instances of lawful self defense ,by a civilian, with fully automatic weapons in his Ayoob files articles. I would encourage you to read them and see what entailed during the investigation into the shootings and why they were justified.

  12. pod says:

    I’m not an attorney, I don’t even play one on TV.

    That being said, if the proper tool for self-defense in a given situation is a machine gun, then I’m going to use a machine gun if possible.

    I don’t think, at least in Florida, that a self-defensive machine gun use is illegal, provided you can prove you legally own the machine gun.

    However, if the case goes to court, the authorities will take note of the choice of firearm, and you’re going to spend extra time explaining why you used the firearm in that case. Depending on the jury, you might walk away with no more problems, or it might get dragged out from a self-defense case into a full-blown murder trial.

    Woolgathering here, but I could see an issue if you had 30 guns in the safe, and 1 of them was a machine gun. Your opponent is a lone intruder with a pistol. You go for the MG, and you kill him with a fusillade of bullets from your MG, rather than with 3 or 4 from one of your semi-autos. You’ll be under the microscope, and your $20,000 machine gun will certainly be confiscated, and I’m willing to bet it’ll be returned in less-than-operable condition by the end of it.

    But if all I had was an MG, or if I knew the situation demanded it (as noted in Mas’ article linked above), I’m gonna go for the MG, and take my chances in the courts later.

    Of course, none of this matters if the world ends, ha ha.

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